Archive for the ‘
Q&A With Authors ’ Category
Friday, September 27th, 2013
My friend’s kid is trying to kill me! Basically, every time one certain dear pal comes over with her offspring, her Tasmanian Devil destroys my house. Like I have to call the fire department and then the handyman. Somehow, she doesn’t notice this. I really love my friend, but, man, what do I do about her kid? I immediately thought of asking expert Julie Klam, author of Friendkeeping, for advice. Julie knows all. In real life and in her book, she tells it like it is with wisdom and wit.
KK: What do I do when I do not like a friend’s kid(s)? I have a situation where I love my friend, but she lets her kids act evil. It’s difficult when they play because my kids aren’t allowed to act like hers act. I am dying to tell her how to parent, but I realize that’s a sure way to destroy our friendship (even if it does save my dog’s eyes and my couch).
JK: I sometimes think of this situation in the way I see my friendship with a conservative republican. How can two people be friends when they see things in such a different way? You love this person, but this is tough because you strongly disagree with a large aspect of his/her personality: how s/he parents. When my daughter was a baby, we joined a playgroup. All the babies pretty much sat there like lumps, occasionally sitting up or falling over. I didn’t really have any disagreements with anyone on how they parented. Someone did a family bed, or believed in letting a baby cry it out, and I just felt like it was all so difficult that any way a person found to get peace was cool with me. As they got older, things changed. Suddenly, the pudgy little smiley baby became a mass hitter and his mom turned into a ‘use your words’ type, and I really liked her. What can you do? Let your little angel be whomped? Obviously not.
And there are as many parenting styles that don’t mesh as there are talking Elmo toys, and it isn’t necessarily a bad kid or a bad parent (though it can be and then it’s a nice opportunity to feel smug. Just kidding!) So what do you do? Up until about age 10, there is so much to disagree with – too permissive with junk food, too much TV, making a really big deal about my kid watching too much TV, which she might have, you realize that if a person is somewhat likeminded, it’s still possible for them to be annoying with their kids. I really don’t think it’s something you can discuss. There is no way friends who parent “differently” can do so without one of you feeling judged.
The best solution is to meet without the kids, it’s healthy for you too. That way whatever wacky stuff they do won’t affect you you or kid, and you can smile and pretend you think it’s fine for a two-year-old to build a birdhouse with a real hammer and nails.
For more great insight, check out Julie Klam’s book, Friendkeeping!
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Thursday, September 12th, 2013
When our young school-age kids worry, we parents worry, too. Some are scared to get on the bus, some have a terrible time falling asleep and others might hit themselves in the head when their homework stumps them. In our fast-paced world, anxiety relentlessly attacks whoever it wants to.
Enter this great expert: Allison Edwards
, LPC, has been working with anxious adults and their offspring for many years. As a registered play therapist who has seen hundreds of clients, she decided to put all of her hard-won tips and information into the new book, Why Smart Kids Worry.
One of her tips is to help the child label her anxiety. If she can’t sleep, say that Sleepless Sally is visiting again. Talk about it, and kick Sally to the curb. The crazier and sillier the name, the better. That helps the child diffuse her feelings and recognize when they’re present and when they’re gone. Need a few more tips? Read my Q&A with Allison below.
KK: Why do smart kids worry?
AE: Smart kids worry because their minds take them places they aren’t ready to go emotionally. They worry about going to college in third grade and about dying in kindergarten because they know these events will eventually happen. Intellectually they can understand these events, but emotionally they can’t process them, thus they worry.
KK: How early does anxiety start with kids?
AE: Anxiety can start as early as three-years-old. Some parents describe having a fussy, impatient, hard-to-soothe child that has always been difficult. These parents generally see anxiety a lot earlier. Other parents describe having a happy-go-lucky child until around 7 or 8 when their child suddenly becomes worried. These parents are more caught off guard because they see a such a sudden change in behavior in their child.
KK: How do you know if your preschooler/early elementary kid is becoming a worrier? Are there warning signs?
AE: You know your child is becoming a worrier if he/she talks about worries on a consistent basis. You may also notice your child becoming more distant, clingy or irritable which may also be signs that your child is worrying.
KK: What are three strategies for helping an anxious child?
AE: Three strategies to help an anxious child are:
1) Don’t get caught up in your child’s anxiety. Stay objective and supportive without getting wrapped up in what your child is worrying about. The calmer you can be, the calmer your child will become.
2) Have your own tools. It’s not enough that your child knows how to calm himself down. You need your own tools to use during times when your child’s anxiety is heightened.
3) Track your child’s anxiety. Take 30 seconds each day to record how anxious your child seemed throughout the day. Using a scale of 1 to 10, write down your child’s level of anxiety and then use the information to reflect on the past days, weeks and months. This will give you a better idea of what triggers your child’s anxiety and how long it generally lasts.
KK: What inspired you to write this book?
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AE: I wrote this book because I struggled with anxiety as a child. I spent the majority of my childhood worrying about things like death, natural disasters, terminal diseases and what I was going to be when I grew up. When I became a child therapist, I found that the kids I was working with worried about the same things. When I couldn’t find any resources that addressed the topic directly, I compiled the information and tools that I had discovered and made it into Why Smart Kids Worry.
Tuesday, September 10th, 2013
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and one mom has written a memoir in the hopes that her story will save someone else’s child or loved one. Her son, Tim Schenke, committed suicide at age 18 in 2008 when he stepped in front of a moving train. The boy suffered from depression but was highly functioning at school as a student and an athlete. Of course, his mother, Lisa Schenke, wishes she had noticed more and done more. That’s why she wrote Without Tim. She’s spent years healing from her devastation and giving advice to other parents. Sadly, her son was one in 10 kids who committed suicide in Southern Monmouth County, New Jersey, in a four year period. The area reeled from sadness. This is her story.
Through writing and reaching out, Lisa has slowly started to pick up the pieces of her life. She had to–she has other children to love and protect. Here’s what she has to say about her new book, Without Tim.
KK: September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day (and September is Suicide Prevention Month). How are you bringing awareness and changing families by sharing your son’s story?
LS: I am truly grateful that suicide prevention is getting more and more attention each year. The takeaway message from the awareness campaign is: Suicide IS preventable. I feel that the idea of a particular day/month continues to raise awareness and that is very important because it spreads information about the warning signs and treatment options, and helps decrease the stigma surrounding suicide.
KK: Is there a checklist you would like to share with parents on the signs of mental health issues in their children? What do you now know about the important “TO DOs” about depressed children?
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LS: As a mom and parent, I would recommend trying to stay as positive as possible — i.e. continue to reinforce that everything will be ok, that you are there for them, that things will get better. Sometimes when I was under stress, I don’t think I stayed as positive as I would have liked to be. It’s hard. Try to help your child understand that it’s ok to have fears and insecurities and that there is a way to get to a better place. Try to remain calm and patient; something I wish I would have been better at. (more…)
Wednesday, September 4th, 2013
I know most of the country has started school. But here on the East Coast, the time is the now (or even next week!). If you’re a parent of a child with special needs, a great new book just came out for you. Author Carolyn Dalgliesh wrote The Sensory Child Gets Organized: Proven Systems for Rigid, Anxious or Distracted Kids. She hopes her tips can make school–and life–a little easier and a lot more fun. Check out my Q&A with her below, including her top 5 tips for going back to school. Dalgliesh knows what she’s talking about–she’s got a sensory child of her own.
KK: How do you deﬁne a sensory child?
CD: In my book, The Sensory Child Gets Organized, I use the term “sensory” to deﬁne children who are rigid, anxious, or distracted as a result of autism, ADHD, anxiety, bipolar disorder or sensory processing disorder. Though there are a number of proﬁles and diagnoses for a “sensory” child, the core challenges are similar for many; attention problems, inﬂexibility, anxiety, social and emotional difﬁculties – all that make for overwhelmed kids (and parents!) as they navigate daily life. I believe in focusing on the challenging behavior or task and coming up with ways to support it.
KK: Why do parents of sensory child need this book?
CD: Sensory kids navigate the world through a different lens and parents need help creating physical environments and sensory organizing strategies that speak to their child. Early on, as I was learning how to support my own sensory child, I felt like there was a major gap between the essential clinical support we received and the practical solutions that we really needed to make life at home easier for our child and our whole family. My book gives parents the sensory organizing tools of structure, routines, and visual aids that can be used anywhere, anytime and for almost any situation. My main goal is to help parents, caregivers and teachers bring out the best in these innately talented kids by providing practical solutions for every day living.
KK: What are your top 5 tips for getting sensory kids prepared and organized for Back-to-School?
CD: For a sensory child, back-to-school isnʼt about a week or two but rather continuous supports over a couple of months. For the sensory child, I like to think of back-to-school as a three-month process that starts with supporting a new classroom with new routines, then moves to getting stuff home and back to school, and ﬁnally homework strategies. Initially, we want to focus on what might be the immediate challenges as our kids get back to school and start with these ﬁrst:
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When it comes to back-to-school, our ﬁrst priority will be supporting their experiences around new people, a new classroom and new routines they will encounter when school starts. (more…)
Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
In a fascinating new book called To the End of June, author Cris Beam explores the intricacies of America’s foster care system. She shares heartfelt stories of real kids journeys woven in with solid research and insight. Our country has more than 400,000 foster kids today–and they’re in every city and school. Yet, the average person doesn’t know much about them or what they go through.
Cris hopes to inform us all–and thereby improve–childrens’ lives. Read my Q&A with this amazing author below. Cris left her own home at age 14 and never saw her mentally disabled mother again. Later, as a grown woman and educator, she adopted a transgender foster kid who was getting lost in the system. She pores her soul into her acclaimed, must-read release.
KK: In three sentences, what is your book about?
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CB: To the End of June reads like a novel as it closely follows a few foster families over the course of five years as they navigate their way through child welfare. These families love their kids and want to do what’s best for them, so through their journey, we can more easily see the problems and potential in child welfare overall. When the families encounter particular issues endemic to foster care (running away, birth family reunions, intersections with juvenile justice, etc.), the book pans back into some child welfare history and research, but always sticks closely to the individual characters and stories themselves. (more…)